Research methods


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Based on psychology research methods..useful for high school and university students

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Research methods

  1. 1. Research Methods Psychologists use many different methods for conducting research. Each method has advantages and disadvantages that make it suitable for certain situations and unsuitable for others.
  2. 2. Quantitative and Qualitative • Qualitative research gathers information that is not in numerical form. For example, diary accounts, open-ended questionnaires, unstructured interviews and unstructured observations. Qualitative data is typically descriptive data and as such is harder to analyze than quantitative data. • Quantitative research gathers data in numerical form which can be put into categories, or in rank order, or measured in units of measurement. This type of data can be used to construct graphs and tables of raw data.
  3. 3. Experimental Psychology • Experimental psychology is an area of psychology that utilizes scientific methods to research the mind and behavior. • It can also be known as a situation where the independent variable is deliberately manipulated by the experimenters.
  4. 4. There are 3 different types of experimental methods:- • Laboratory Experiments: An experiment that occurs in a carefully controlled environment, usually a laboratory. • Field Experiments: An experiment that takes place in the real world as opposed to a laboratory. The IV is still manipulated by the experimenters. • Natural Experiments: An experiment that takes place in the real world and where the IV occurs naturally. There is no manipulation of the IV.
  5. 5. Investigations using the correlational analysis • A method of data analysis which allows the strength of the relationship between two (or more) co-variables to be measured. • Correlation means association - more precisely it is a measure of the extent to which two variables are related. If an increase in one variable tends to be associated with an increase in the other then this is known as a positive correlation. If an increase in one variable tends to be associated with a decrease in the other then this is known as a negative correlation. A zero correlation occurs when there is no relationship between variables.
  6. 6. Naturalistic Observations • A study where the observer objectively records the behavior of a participants in their natural environment. • Natural: Here spontaneous behavior is recorded in a natural setting. • Controlled: behavior is observed under controlled laboratory conditions. • Participant: Here the observer has direct contact with the group of people they are observing. • Non-participant: The researcher does not have direct contact with the people being observed.
  7. 7. Questionnaires• Written methods of data collection. They can involve open or closed questions. Surveys tend to involve a large sample of participants. • Questionnaires can be thought of as a kind of written interview. They can be carried out face to face, by telephone or post. • The questions asked can be open ended, allowing flexibility in the respondent's answers, or they can be more tightly structured requiring short answers or a choice of answers from given alternatives. • The choice of questions is important because of the need to avoid bias or ambiguity in the questions, ‘leading’ the respondent, or causing offence.
  8. 8. Interviews • A verbal method of data collection that involves the researcher asking questions in a face-to-face way. They can vary from very structured (formal) to unstructured(informal). • Unstructured (informal) interviews are like a casual conversation. There are no set questions and the participant is given the opportunity to raise whatever topics he/she feels are relevant and ask them in their own way. In this kind of interview much qualitative data is likely to be collected. • Structured (formal) interviews are like a job interview. There is a fixed, predetermined set of questions that are put to every participant in the same order and in the same way. The interviewer stays within their role and maintains social distance from the interviewee.
  9. 9. Advantages and Disadvantages Research method Advantages Disadvantages Survey Yields a lot of information Provides a good way to generate hypotheses. Can provide info about many people since it’s cheap and easy to do Provides information about behavior that can’t be observed directly Relies on self-report data, which can be misleading Doesn’t allow conclusions about cause-and-effect relationships Experiment Identifies cause-and- effect relationships Distinguishes between placebo effects and real effects of a treatment or drug Can be artificial, so results may not generalize to real- world situations
  10. 10. Advantages and Disadvantages Research method Advantages Disadvantages Naturalistic observation Can be useful for generating hypotheses Provides information about behavior in the natural environment Sometimes yields biased results May be difficult to do unobtrusively Doesn’t allow conclusions about cause-and-effect relationships Laboratory observation Enables use of sophisticated equipment for measuring and recording behavior Can be useful for generating hypotheses Sometimes yields biased results Carries the risk that observed behavior is different from natural behavior Doesn’t allow conclusions about cause-and-effect relationships